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Facebook Home: Everything you need to know

What is Facebook Home? Facebook Home is a launcher for Android. It makes Facebook instantly accessible in a more integrated way than ever before, with your Facebook feed taking over your lock screen, floating heads popping up when you get messages and Facebook messaging happening alongside applications rather than requiring you open up Facebook separately. Facebook Home manages to integrate text messages and Facebook messages tightly, meaning they’re consumed in the same way, aiming to unify the way you interact with your phone and your Facebook account.


Facebook home is a launcher? What’s a launcher?

A launcher is an overlay that replaces all cosmetic elements of the Android operating system. Rather than just looking different though, launchers like Facebook Home are also tightly integrated with core functions of the Android operating system. This makes sure the entire experience feels cohesive and has core functionality that isn’t available in stock versions of the OS.
Other examples of launchers include Samsung’s TouchWiz, HTC’s Sense and Sony’s Xperia user interface. Most launchers aren’t made by big names though, and none of the aforementioned can be downloaded through the Google Play Store. 
Independent app developers however do produce launchers that can be freely downloaded through Google Play, such as Launcher Pro, Go Launcher and Nova Launcher.

How do I get Facebook Home?

Like the latter launchers described, Facebook Home will be available to download through the Google Play Store. You can download it from April 12th for key devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 2, HTC One X and HTC One
If you’re liking the idea of Facebook Home and want a new phone, the HTC First will be released around the same time on EE and Orange, loaded with Facebook Home from the offset. What makes the HTC First special is the fact that it will have exclusive features, such as messaging integration with email, rather than just text messages and Facebook messages.

What’s Facebook Home’s interface like?

It all starts at the lock screen, or Cover Feed as Facebook terms it. Turn on your phone, activate Cover Feed and you can swipe through your Facebook news feed. Without unlocking your phone, you can interact with posts, like them and comment. At the bottom of the lock screen, or Cover Feed, is a picture of you. Click this and you’ll be presented with three options: the first, a shortcut to your last used app, the second, a shortcut to your apps drawer and the third, a shortcut to Facebook messenger.
Running on top of Android, Facebook Home supports Android apps, and these are displayed in a traditional apps tray as well as a quickly accessible bookmark tray as pictured below.
When interacting with Facebook Home, a real point Zuckerberg hit home was how users interact with people, not apps. This is achieved with what he termed ‘Chat Heads’. Chat Heads are floating circular icons displaying an active Facebook friend’s profile picture. 
When you get a message from a Facebook friend, the Chat Head pops up unobtrusively atop whatever app you’re viewing. You don’t have to click it, but it is there with an indicator showing how many notifications are associated with it. We put together a GIF to better describe the experience:
Facebook Home
If you don’t want to be interrupted, just swipe the Chat Head out of the way. If you want to interact with it, as illustrated above, tap the Chat Head. Once tapped, the message will expand and you can reply, still atop the app you were viewing before so you don’t lose what you were doing before the interruption.

Is there anything else I should know about Facebook Home?

Facebook Home will update monthly and is expected to roll out across other Android phones and tablets over the next three months. Facebook wants Facebook Home to be a better experience than even its desktop counterpart, so we’ve got high hopes for the launcher. Until we get our hands on Home though, there’s not really much else we can say, so stay tuned to for more, and keep your eyes glued to the Google Play Store if you’re lucky enough to have a compatible device come April 12th.


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